Laurence Tribe

  • Aired:  01/30/12
  •  | Views: 15,482

Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe discusses the function of the Constitution and reveals his favorite amendment. (5:37)

>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK,

EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS A

PROFESSOR OF CONSTITUTIONAL

LAW AT HARVARD WHO TAUGHT

PRESIDENT BAMA.

YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY,

THOSE WHO CAN DO, THOSE WHO

CAN ALSO BECOME PROFESSORS

AT INSTITUTIONAL

LAW-- CONSTITUTIONAL LAW AT

HARVARD WHO TAUGHT PRESIDENT

OBAMA.

PLEASE WELCOME LAWRENCE

TRIBE.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PROFESSOR TRIBE, THANK YOU

SO MUCH FOR BEING HERE.

>> THANK YOU.

>> Stephen: OKAY.

YOU ARE A BIG MUCKY MUCK IN

THE WORLD OF CONSTITUTIONAL

LAW.

AS I SAID YOU TAUGHT

PRESIDENT OBAMA.

HE ALSO WORKED FOR YOU,

RIGHT.

>> HE WAS MY RESEARCH

ASSISTANT FOR A WHILE.

>> Stephen: WAS IT HARD AS A

YOUNG MAN, WAS IT HARD TO

UNDERSTAND HIM THROUGH THAT

THICK KENYAN ACCENT?

>> IT WAS THE HAWAIIAN AGO

IS SENT THAT I FOUND A

LITTLE HARD.

>> Stephen: REALLY.

>> STARTING EVERY SENTENCE

WITH ALOHA.

>> YES.

>> Stephen: YOU ALSO TAUGHT

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS.

>> HE WAS A QUIETER GUY.

>> Stephen: REALLY?

>> YEAH.

>> Stephen: BUT HE SPOKE

VOLUMES WITH HIS EYES I BET.

IT WAS HARD TO TEACH HIM

BECAUSE THOSE CRYSTAL BLUE

THINGS.

>> I'M NOT SURE HOW MUCH OF

WHAT I TAUGHT ACTUALLY,

ACTUALLY MADE A DIFFERENCE.

>> Stephen: REALLY?

REALLY.

SO HIS, YOU DON'T SEE YOUR

INFLUENCE IN HIS DECISIONS.

>> ACTUALLY, WHEN HE WAS

SWEARING IN THE PRESIDENT I

FELT PRETTY GOOD, YOU KNOW,

ONE GUY I TAUGHT SWEARING

THE OTHER AND THEN THEY BOTH

GOT THE OATH WRONG.

SO I THOUGHT MAYBE I REALLY

SCREWED UP.

>> Stephen: WHEN TEACHING

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW YOU

SHOULD HAVE TAUGHT THE

CONSTITUTION.

>> I TRIED.

I TRIED.

>> Stephen: NOW.

>> IT'S SHORT.

>> Stephen: THE

CONSTITUTION.

>> YEAH, VERY SHORT.

>> Stephen: HOW IMPORTANT IS

IT BECAUSE-- SERIOUSLY,

PEOPLE TALK ABOUT IT A LOT.

AND THERE ARE GREAT THINGS

IN THERE, LINE, LIBERTY,

PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS, FOUR

SCORE IN SEVEN YEARS, BEER

BEFORE LIQUOR, ALL THE GOOD

STUFF IS IN THERE.

BUT HOW IS IT IMPORTANT FOR

US TO KNOW IT ON A DAILY,

HOW DOES IT AFFECT MY LIFE

ON A DAILY BASIS.

>> IT KEEPS THE GOVERNMENT

OUT OF YOUR BEDROOM.

IT KEEPS THE-- .

>> Stephen: NOT ALWAYS.

>> NOT ALWAYS, RIGHT.

>> WELL, YOU KNOW, IF YOU

ARE JUST-- YOU KNOW, BEING A

NORMAL HUMAN BEING, LIVING

YOUR LIFE.

>> Stephen: WHAT IS A NORMAL

PERSON IN THEIR BEDROOM,

LARRY.

>> WELL, YOU KNOW, IT'S NONE

OF THE GOVERNMENT'S BUSINESS

THAT IS THE MAIN POINT.

>> Stephen: OKAY, I WILL BUY

THAT.

>> BUT IT'S AN IMPORTANT

DOCUMENT IT SORT OF SETS UP,

IT'S A BLUEPRINT FOR THE WAY

THE GOVERNMENT WORKS.

IT DOESN'T ALWAYS WORK GREAT,

BUT BETTER THAN A LOT OF

OTHER COUNTRIES.

>> Stephen: YOU'VE GOT AN

ARTICLE IN HERE, I SUBSCRIBE

FOR THE ARTICLE IT IS CALLED

AMERICA'S CONSTITUTIONAL

NARRATIVE.

NOW IN THIS YOU SAY THE

CONSTITUTION IS NOT A KNOWN.

IT'S A VERB.

>> RIGHT.

>> Stephen: WHAT DOES IT

MEAN TO CONSTITUTION.

>> YOU KNOW, YOU SORT OF

LIVE THE CONSTITUTION, YOU

DON'T JUST LOOK AT IT.

IT'S A WAY WE DO THINGS.

IT'S THE WAY WE CONDUCT OUR

LIVES.

>> Stephen: ARE WE

CONSTITUTIONING RIGHT NOW?

>> WE'RE SORT OF

INSTITUTING-- INSTITUTING,

SOMETHING, YEAH, BUT THE WAY

THE CONSTITUTION WORKS IT

SORT OF SETS UP A GOVERNMENT

AND THEN IT PUTS TOGETHER A

FRAMEWORK AND THEN WE HAVE

TO LIVE IT.

IT DOESN'T ANSWER ALL YOUR

QUESTIONS.

>> Stephen: YES, IT DOES.

>> WELL, THEN-- .

>> Stephen: I'M A

CONSTITUTIONAL ORIGINALIST,

ALONG WITH SCALIA, OKAY.

>> YEAH.

>> Stephen: I DO NOT THINK,

YOU THINK THIS IS A LIVING

DOCUMENT.

>> WELL, I DON'T THINK IT'S

A DEAD DOCUMENT.

I THINK, THE COOL THING

ABOUT IT IS WE CAN ARGUE

ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS.

A LOT OF IT, YOU KNOW, LIKE

LIBERTY WHAT IS LIBERTY.

>> Stephen: FREEDOM.

>> WHAT IS EQUALITY, FREEDOM

TO DO WHAT.

>> Stephen: BE FREE.

>> YEAH, RIGHT.

>> Stephen: IS THAT TOO

TOUGH.

COY TEACH AT HARVARD.

RIGHT?

>> YES, COULD I TAKE YOUR

CLASS.

>> Stephen: YOU SURE COULD.

YOU ARE TAKING MY CLASS

RIGHT NOW, MISTER.

>> I CAN SENSE THAT

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen: MY FAVORITE

DECISION IS CITIZENS UNITED.

OKAY, I LOVE THAT.

>> I CAN SEE THAT OKAY.

>> Stephen: BECAUSE AS WE

KNOW SANTAA COLLAR

LaSOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD

CORPORATIONS ARE PEOPLE.

>> WHETHER CORPORATIONS ARE

PERSONS ARE OR NOT T DOESN'T

NECESSARILY DECIDE THE CASE.

THE SUPREME COURT SAID THAT

WHOEVER IS TALKING WHETHER

IT'S A CORPORATION OR

SOMETHING ELSE.

>> Stephen: RIGHT.

>> PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT TO

HEAR WHAT IT IS SAYING.

AND SO EVEN IF WE SAID IN

THE CONSTITUTION

CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PERSONS,

THE LAW WOULDN'T CHANGE.

THE ONLY WAY TO CHANGE IT IS

TO GET THE COURT TO

RECOGNIZE THAT DEMOCRACY IS

THREATENED BY THE FLOOD OF

MONEY.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE

CERTAINLY SHOULD DO IS MAKE

SURE THAT WHO THEY ARE GETS

DISCLOSED.

IT'S NOT TRANSPARENT SO WE

DON'T KNOW IF IT'S VIACOM

TALKING OR IF IT'S GENERAL

MOTORS TALKING OR IF IT'S

CHRYSLER TALKING IT OUGHT TO

BE TRANSPARENT.

>> Stephen: BUT THEN THE

VOTERS MIGHT TAKE OUT ON THE

PERSON WHO GAVE THE MONEY.

>> THAT WOULD BE EXACTLY

RIGHT.

>> Stephen: THAT'S TERRORISM.

>> NO, A LOT OF PEOPLE

WOULDN'T WANT SOME OF THIS

CRAP TO GO OUT IF THEY HAD

TO IDENTIFY THEMSELVES WITH

IT.

>> THIS IS A FAMILY SHOW,

ARE YOU GOING TO --

>> WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE

AMENDMENT.

>> I THINK THE NINTH, THAT'S

MY FAVORITE.

>> Stephen: MINE'S THE 19th.

>> IN FRANCHISING WOMEN,

THAT'S GOOD TOO.

>> Stephen: THAT'S GOOD TOO.

>> YOU KNOW, DON'T YOU WANT

TO KNOW WHY YOU LIKE THE

NINTH AMENDMENT.

>> WHAT.

I THOUGHT YOU MIGHT LIKE TO

KNOW WHY I LIKE THE NINTH

AMENDMENT.

>> Stephen: NOT

PARTICULARLY.

WHY DO YOU LIKE THE NINTH

AMENDMENT,.

>> BECAUSE IT'S THE ONE THAT

STLAS ARE THINGS IN THE

CONSTITUTION THAT HAVEN'T

BEEN FIGURED OUT YET THERE

ARE ING THISES THAT AREN'T

WRITTEN DOWN LIKE PRIVACY.

>> Stephen: SO THE NINTH

AMENDMENT JUST BASICALLY

SAYS OR WHATEVER.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR

JOINING ME.

>> THANK YOU, STEPHEN.

>> Stephen: FROM THE HARVARD

LAW SCHOOL, LAWRENCE TRIBE.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.